Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

Ready, Steady, Sow. Part 1. Tomatoes & Peppers.

Here at Darsham Nurseries there is suddenly a lot to do in order to achieve our goals for 2016. Impatience is setting in. Personally, I am thrilled with the seed collection we have amassed from all over the world during the winter months. It includes these beauties:

• New Heritage tomatoes
• Turkish chillies
• Purple peppers and chillies
• Yellow climbing, striped and white scalloped courgettes
• Black, red and purple carrots
• Persian basil
• Agretti
• Russian cucumbers
• Purple beans, chickpeas and black peas
• New pink and purple Indian radishes
• New annuals

Our aim is to grow enough seedlings to supply the café for the summer months and to also give our customers a chance to purchase these rare varieties.

Nature however is not ready yet to play ball. Human intervention is needed.

Luckily good old Google has helped us devise a plan. We have constructed a giant heated propagator by upcycling leftover materials and investing in a 24 metre heated soil warmer cable with a thermostat. The majority of heat loving seeds need daily temperatures of between 60° to 70° to have a good germination success rate. Hardier vegetables like chard, kale, broad beans and lettuce will germinate in a greenhouse without any artificial heat. Any seed packet that advises ‘Sow direct in spring’ falls into this category.

We have constructed a simple 1m x 4m frame, and then lined it with old hanging baskets liners (but any layer of non-absorbent material will suffice) which will provide a lower layer of insulation. A length of plastic sheeting was then stapled to the inside of the wooden frame and perforated to allow any excess water to drain. A two-inch layer of sharp sand was added before laying the cable in a series of ‘S’ bends inside the frame. A further two inches of sand is added to cover the cable. Ideally a tunnel shape is required to allow adequate air circulation, this we created using left over plastic piping. However, wooden stakes topped with empty plant pots would also work. Secure clear plastic sheeting over the top with some perforation holes, which allows light and air through and creates a moveable lid.

This propagator is large enough to hold 36 seed trays, but these measurements can be adapted depending on the space available.

This construction can be dismantled when you need to reclaim the space and used again next year. We intend to remove the lid and cover the framework with some marine ply, as it will be re-used for micro leaves in the Autumn.

A good tip is to arrange the empty seed trays before you start construction. This allows you to choose the size and shape best for your needs. Another good tip is to have an electric point within reach of the cable!
This is our new ‘Hot Box’

The framework.


Lining the frame.



Laying the cable


Not pretty, but already warming up nicely.


The seed collection is vast but the priority today is tomatoes and chillies.


Today’s lucky seeds are:


‘Gold Medal Yellow’

‘Blue Beauty’

‘Orange Queen’


‘Gold Rush Currant’

‘Sweet Solano’

‘Chocolate Stripes’

‘Doctor Wyches Yellow Beefsteak’

‘Green Grape’

‘Dad’s Sunset’

‘Berkeley Tie Dye’

‘Stone Ridge’

‘Todd County Amish’

‘Sunrise Bumblebee’


‘Purple Bumble Bee’

‘Black Elephant’

‘Gold Medal’

‘Emerald Apple’

‘Beauty King’


‘Sante Fe Grande’

‘Numex Suave Red’

‘Brazilian Starfish’

‘Choc Bhut Jolokia’

‘Beuna Mulata’

‘Pasilla Bajir’

‘Golden Cayenne’



‘Syrian Three Sided’

‘Italian Pepperoncini’


‘Lilac Bell’

Fingers crossed, in a week or so the seedlings should be emerging.

 Ist March 2016

* Details of the seeds we sourced can be found on my previous pages ‘O Seed D’ Parts 1 & 2.*

limegarden@sky.com • 1st March 2016

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